Steve Pike


5:56 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Cotton Carnival, The Cotton Makers Jubilee, And Carnival Memphis

Cotton Carnival, Memphis, Tennessee, 1940
Credit Marion Post Wolcott / Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Great Depression pushed cotton prices to drastically low levels. The Memphis economy was suffering.

In early 1931, Arthur Halle and a group of businessmen founded a festival to promote cotton and Memphis. The first Cotton Carnival was held in March, but soon moved to May, a warmer month. Today’s Carnival is usually held the first week of June. 

Because of segregation, blacks could not participate. So Dr. R.Q. Venson founded what became the Cotton Makers Jubilee in 1935 for African-Americans. The events ran parallel to one another for nearly half a century.

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Memphis Moments
5:51 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

The Flood of 1927

In Arkansas, the Mississippi River Flood of 1927
Library of Congress

Flooding along the Mississippi River is a danger that has always existed. Today, we have some protection against the forces of nature through improved levee and flood-wall systems.

But, in the early years of the 20th Century, such protection was minimal at best, and the yearly floods were a part of life on the Mississippi.

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Memphis Moments
5:50 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Joe Rosenthal Wide World/Associated Press/Library of Congress

May 27th, the last Monday in May, is Memorial Day. Americans pause to remember and honor those who died defending our country. The observance began at Waterloo, NY on May 5, 1865, as a tribute to Union Soldiers.

For years, Southern states had separate Memorial Days. For example, Tennessee's was June 3.

Memorial Day now honors the dead of all wars in which the United States has fought. Congress declared it a Federal Holiday in 1971. Tennessee is nicknamed the Volunteer State because so many of its citizens have enlisted when needed.

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Memphis Moments
5:50 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Hernando De Soto

Engraving of Hernando De Soto
Credit John Sartain

The famed Spanish explorer, Hernando De Soto, the first European to see the Mississippi River, died on May 21, 1542.

De Soto and his men had marched hundreds of miles through much of the Southeast. By the time of his death, De Soto had lost at least 1/3 of his men to disease, malnutrition, and constant warfare with the Native Americans.

After his death, the remaining Spaniards traveled down the Mississippi, made their way to Mexico, and then back home.

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Memphis Moments
5:50 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Abe Fortas

Associate Justice Abe Fortas

Abe Fortas may be the only Supreme Court Justice whose first career was in a dance band. The son of Jewish immigrants from England, Fortas grew up on Pontotoc Street in downtown Memphis. His father encouraged him to play the violin, and, by thirteen, he was playing in a dance band called “the Blue Medley Boys.”

The young sensation, nicknamed “Fiddlin' Abe,” earned enough to supplement his college scholarship at Southwestern University, today's Rhodes College. His passion for music and the arts remained with him throughout his life.

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